Mails: Arsenal are signing Paul Pogba. Yep.

Date published: Thursday 26th November 2015 3:25

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LVG: Bad at decision-making
I have written in previously, stating that van Gaal’s decision-making has struck me as bizarre at times and I think it’s a point worth re-iterating, not just after last night’s performance, but in respect of this season in general. Some of the choices he makes are just downright baffling and it is so difficult to work out the reasoning behind them. A handful of these are:

  1. His team selections: The continued faith in an under-performing (for United, at least) Rooney, using players out of position, consistent omission of better alternatives, alienating new signings before complaining about their form…I could go on here
  1. Transfer dealings: Keeping and ignoring Valdes and Johnstone then signing Romero as well, completely ignoring the lack of (regularly fit) centre-backs, selling two senior strikers and buying a (very promising but still only) 19 year old winger/forward as the only alternative, sending Januzaj out on loan and selling Nani and di Maria then moaning that you’vegot no pace in attack.
  1. Tactics: I don’t have a problem with having a plan B or C of “hoof it up to the big man” but that plan quite strongly relies on three things; 1) him actually being in the box 2) accurate crosses then going into the box and 3) other players trying to get into the box to pick up the knock-downs. Fellaini’s introduction last night saw fewer attempts to actually pick him out in attacking (not just forward) positions with crosses, and Rooney dropping even further back. Whereas earlier on we seemed to be crossing quite regularly, when through balls and playing off the shoulder of the last man would have been more effective.

I get that he has massively improved both our defending and possession stats and I am grateful for that. But why have such a myopic view of our situation? Can we really only improve one aspect of our game at once? I can live without the excitement of thrilling attacking football as long as we’re picking up three points, but against sides that are happy to cede possession, drop deep and play on the counter, these tactics clearly don’t work.

The kind of football we play now is neither effective nor entertaining and we won’t achieve anything other than a reasonably respectable finish in the league and a very short run in the trophies. Now, I’m not saying that would be a tragedy or that we should be winning the league/a cup, but it’d be nice to appear like we’re actively trying to win, rather than boring the opposition into submission. The team feels like it can achieve more than it is and is being stifled by this uber-disciplined approach; just take a few risks and aim a bit higher, Louis.
Ted, Manchester


Louis should learn from Ranieri
First-off, I’m a Spurs fan with little interest in Man Utd or LVG. That being said, I can’t help but share my personal observation about the man. This thought came to me at first back during the world cup when he was hailed as a genius for only using 2 subs before finally bringing on Tim Krul for Penalties. It worked and LVG took the plaudits with glee. To quote Benedict Cumberbatch’s depiction of Sherlock Holmes, “The frailty of genius, it needs an audience”.

The trouble is, that wasn’t genius. He didn’t know it would work. It was a gamble. It might have worked equally well just to replace some tired legs half an hour earlier and they might’ve wrapped up the game without the need for a shootout.

Van Gaal isn’t a genius, merely an egotist. He desperately wants to be lauded by pundits and newspapers for “tactical genius” so makes changes (e.g. Rooney in DM, moving Depay around, Young at Wing Back). If he makes enough of such changes, eventually one will work and he’ll get that warm glow inside when he reads those words.

Matches like last night highlight this. Last night none of his tactical switches or tinkering worked. Man Utd were a confused shambles and were actually lucky not to lose really.

To see it done properly, step forward Mr Ranieri, the original Tinkerman. Earlier in the season he lost his left-back to injury so went from a very successful 5-4-1 to a good ol’ 4-4-2. Yep, swapped his LB for a CF! They won. It wasn’t a tinker to make the back pages, it was a tinker to win a match. Therein lies LVG’s problem, he is tinkering because his ego needs the plaudits that will come his way when his tinkering comes good.
Thom, (Hoping Poch stays clear of this tinkering nonsense and just keeps Spurs winning by working bloody hard), Bristol-based Spur


Shut up, Paul
Is anyone else getting seriously annoyed with Scholes. I’m not a Man Utd fan but grew up in the era of Fergie dominance and naturally hated Utd but had respect for the quality of their players.

Scholes was one of the best and for a time potentially the best midfielder in the world. But you never heard from him. I’m sure Utd fans would have loved to hear from him after some of those wonderful games or watched a sit down interview with him. But no, the lad was apparently crippled with shyness. It was quite endearing and cemented his place as just an ordinary Joe.

Now we know different, the reason he never spoke was that he wasn’t being paid to. Since he’s retired he’s never stopped spouting opinions left, right and centre. This is a man who can’t stop criticising his former club yet turned down the offer to coach them under David Moyes. He’s also turned down the chance to manage Oldham so clearly doesn’t fancy putting his own neck on the line.

He was on the Salford documentary holding court in front of hundreds of fans and rarely seems to be off the tv these days so the crippling shyness seems to have been cured. I’m guessing the pay checks help. It all strikes me as very disingenuous.

His criticism of Martial is what really annoyed me last night, claiming he wasn’t bothered when he missed a chance or even when he scored. His calm demeanour when he scored was exactly what he was being praised for when he started scoring for Utd as it implies a confidence of a natural goalscorer and an unwillingness not to get too carried away. I’m not sure that picking on a 19 year old is very constructive.

Scholes is coming across as someone very bitter and I don’t really understand why.  Interested to know what the Utd fans think about his recent opinions.


Guy <3 Wayne
Hi Silvio Dante, long time reader and big fan.

I do hate to keep banging a tired drum, but… I just wanted to pick up on the assertion that if Rooney “isn’t doing anything good then he’s just taking the place of someone who can run and make something happen”. I had to double check my info, but I do believe there were 10 other players out there last night, some in particular who also failed to deliver.

He dropped back into midfield because the midfield weren’t creating anything and he can do better. But sadly that doesn’t mean the much acclaimed and –  according to many on this site – superior forward options were actually better at offering movement.

We all know the focus is on possession as a means of defence and control, which can slow things down a lot. But we did create some nice opportunities. We just didn’t finish them off (Martial and Lingard particular culprits, let alone our corner routines).

What I don’t really get, if I’m honest, is why when we’ve established an approach that works and creates good football we revert to previous type in a game like this that was effectively must win!

Still, it’s been a lot worse. And it will get better.
Guy S


Mandzukic? Pah
Shaz (good strikers aren’t unicorns)
lost his argument when he said Giroud hold-up play was rubbish. You can be an armchair manager but you have to at least watch football to comment and you clearly have not watched Arsenal and Giroud.

And because its nice to add facts:

Giroud Whoscored – 6.93
Mandzukic Whoscored – 6.7 (6.61 in the league)

We definitely need someone slightly worse than what we already have.

Higuain however…
Rob A (we will sign a young Spanish/German attacking midfielder and a right back) AFC


Dear MC,

Whilst reading about Paul Pogba in Winners and Losers today it suddenly dawned on me. Arsenal are going to sign Paul Pogba. It literally can’t not happen. Wenger saved his money in the Summer as he has a pre-arranged agreement with Pogba’s representatives and will need to save up the full amount of money to buy him, hence the delay. It really will be the second coming (of Vieira) and the player Wenger wants the most. Dropped into this current Arsenal team we literally will be unstoppable over the next few years. I literally can’t wait. Wenger, you really are a very clever man as I never saw this coming.
JazGooner (Alongside Ozil… Er… I’m spent. #WelcomePaul)


Great article on the Coq replacements today
and I would be happy with any of those.

I wonder if you could please mail it to Arsene Wenger because I have a feeling that with Wilshere back in January, he will most likely be going for that well know Spanish player, Noah Juan.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC


Ings will only get dearer
I have just seen that the fee for Danny Ings’ transfer from Burnley to Liverpool will be set by a tribunal likely to sit in January 2016. For those with short memories he joined the club in June 2015.

Since then he has been out of the side, fought his way in, scored some goals, got selected for England and suffered a major injury. All before the FA even arranged the tribunal meeting date.

How on earth can that happen in this day and age? Football is supposed to be a multi-million pound business but it operates like a parish council.
Micki (if my fee was set by tribunal I would have the pay the team to play) Attridge


No love for Barca
With reference to the Champions League Winners and Losers from this morning. I find it impossible to enjoy Barcelona and their famous frontline.

The front three of Messi with his (alleged) growth hormones and (alleged) income tax irregularities, Neymar with one of the murkiest transfer deals in history and Suarez(!) is just so hard to love.

This alongside a general feeling of negativity towards the club with their hounding of the referee, transfer bans and the original diving Busquets.

I just fear that there is no-one out there good enough to knock the smug grin off Dani Alves.
Jon, (they used to pay UNICEF, they’re now paid by Qatar Airways) London


Johnny Nic
Johnny Nic bemoaning a team for lacking the ephemeral “passion”? You could not make it up.
– Mr. F, MUFC

Ooo, burn
Personally, I’d rather be Arsenal (13 league titles) as opposed to Chelsea (4 titles) any day of the week.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

Losers: Daniel Storey
In comparing Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Daniel Storey cites the standard of Bayern Munich’s domestic competition in raising a question about their ability to win this season’s Champion’s League.

Given that Barcelona have just beaten their (likely) closest domestic rivals 4-0 away from home and a less than stellar performance from the other two Spanish Champions League entrants in this year’s competition, why isn’t the current quality of La Liga similarly being used to question Barca’s chances?
Peter (can’t be bothered) Corcoran

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